Even though the results seem almost inevitable, it’s hard to resist a good debate, and senators are giving it their best shot this week when it comes to laying out the merits and pitfalls of Supreme Court Justice nominee Elena Kagan.
The Associated Press reports:
Democrats and Republicans presented dueling portraits yesterday of Elena Kagan and the Supreme Court she’s seeking to join at the start of a politically charged debate over her fitness to be a justice, making what amounted to closing arguments before a near-certain confirmation vote by week’s end.
Democrats praised President Obama’s nominee as a highly qualified legal scholar who would add a note of fairness and common sense to a court they described as dominated by a conservative majority run amok.
“She’ll base her approach to deciding cases on the law and the Constitution, not on politics, not on an ideological agenda,’’ said Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He said today’s Supreme Court is populated by “activist conservative members’’ who substitute their own judgment for that of lawmakers.
Republicans countered that Kagan is an inexperienced, disingenuous nominee who would abuse her post by bending the law to suit a liberal agenda.
“I don’t think it’s a secret. I think this is pretty well known that this is not a judge committed to restraint, [or] objectivity,’’ said Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Her past actions and testimony indicate she would be “an activist, liberal, progressive, politically minded judge who will not be happy simply to decide cases but will seek to advance her causes under the guise of judging.’’
Sen. Sessions has been working hard on his objections, even sending a letter to his fellow senators in an attempt to woo some nay voters his way. From the LA Times:
The Senate soon will consider the nomination of Elena Kagan to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. I have fulfilled my commitment to participate in a fair and rigorous committee process. I now write to share my objections to this nominee and to encourage you to carefully review Ms. Kagan’s record. In my view, Ms. Kagan fails to meet the high standard for a Supreme Court appointment: an impartial commitment to the rule of law. Not only does Ms. Kagan have a troubling lack of legal experience as either a judge or a practicing lawyer, but her most extensive experience was as a policy maker or political lawyer.
Ms. Kagan’s lack of legal experience should be of significant concern to any Senator. She has less real legal experience than any Supreme Court nominee in 50 years. Ms. Kagan’s legal experience consists of only two years as a young lawyer in a large law firm, and roughly 14 months as Solicitor General. In light of this dramatic deficit, it is important to examine the actions she has taken during her career and to determine what that says about her possible career on the Court.
Kagan’s confirmation is expected to be easy sailing, with almost unanimous support from the senate’s Democrats and a few Republicans as well. Then, like always, there is Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, who never met a party platform he didn’t feel the need to buck. Roll Call reports on some of the pressure Nelson is getting after announcing he will be the only Democratic senator to vote down his own party’s president’s nomimee.
Sen. Ben Nelson is catching a lot of grief from within his party for being the first Democratic Senator in decades to oppose his president’s pick for the Supreme Court. But the Nebraskan is hearing none of it.
“Are they from Nebraska? Then I don’t care,” a defiant Nelson said Tuesday.
Nelson, who for months has broken with his party on a variety of high-profile issues, on Friday became the first Democratic Senator to oppose Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination. Nelson has said Kagan is unfit to serve on the high court, noting her lack of judicial experience and his constituents’ concerns about the installment.
Nelson, who supported Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation last year, argued that Kagan’s previous comments and political positions simply raise too many unanswered questions for him to support her. There are “enough comments made to raise doubts, [and] I’m not in the position to quell those fears. Including my own,” Nelson said.
In the meantime, Justice Ruth Bader Guinsberg is looking forward to the nearly inevitable confirmation, when she will then get to serve on a historic, three-woman court.
Mini Roundup: It looks like the family planning money in the New Jersey state budget may be permanently lost, as Republicans who voted for adding the funds are now refusing to override the governor’s veto.
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August 3, 2010
A ‘sham’ executive order and ‘unenforceable’ abortion restrictions – Washington Post
No apologies for being consistently pro-life – Washington Post
With Senate set to consider Kagan, Sen. Sessions blasts her ‘expansive view … – Los Angeles Times
Kitzhaber wins backing of abortion rights groups – OregonLive.com
Kenya sends 18K police to hotspot ahead of vote – The Associated Press
Herbal Contraceptives Under the Radar – Inter Press Service
The Record: Funding life – NorthJersey.com
NJ Democrats to launch campaign to override Christie’s veto of $7.5M family … – The Star-Ledger – NJ.com
LOCAL COMMENT Kids suffer as Michigan slips deeper into poverty – Detroit Free Press
Texas State Sen. Asks AG To Clarify 2005 Law On Family Planning Funding – Medical News Today
Planning right – The Hindu
NJ GOP lawmakers who voted to restore family planning funds refuse to override … – The Star-Ledger – NJ.com
Female Birth Control: Once a week patch being tested – 33 KDAF-TV
GPs ‘should have bigger role in maternity care’ – WebMD.Boots.com
Tabloids editors need educating in basic medical reporting – The Guardian
Violence, Condom Negotiation, and HIV/STI Risk Among Sex Workers – Journal of American Medical Association
Chinese sex workers protest against crackdown – The Guardian
Victory for midwives: The Midwifery Modernization Act passed – Examiner.com
Planning a home birth? Read this first. – Washington Post